Comment Spam Problems

Gentle readers, as so many other blogs, afoe is having major problems with the way Movable Type, the system we’ve been using to run this blog since 2003, is handling comment spam.

Unfortunatly, as you may have noticed, our host,, decided this morning that it had to suspend our domain temporarily because of the excessive server loads created by our comment spam – we’re talking about a couple of thousand comment spam entries per day.

In order to avoid future suspensions, I have disabled the comments on the entire system until we have worked out a solution that will avoid future account suspensions.

You can still contact us by email and the contact form on the about page. I will update this post as soon as we’ve worked something out.


The European Commission still can’t tell participation from a horse’s arse. Neither, sadly, can the advocates of closer European integration. At least the ones who the Commission (and all the other institutions) thinks will help them win friends and influence people.

Example the first. Three organisations – the European Movement, plus something called “Notre Europe”, and something else called “Europanova” – are going to hold a gathering in Lille on the 17th of March. Now, the European Movement is familiar enough – rather worthy, painfully Commission-ish. Who the hell are the others? Notre Europe is run – indeed, going by the bylines on its website, is – two superannuated bureaucrats and Jacques Delors. Europanova has the first devilish sign of Euro-dullness on its home page, a reference to “jeunes leaders”.

They turn out to be a French academic who, surprise surprise, works at the European College in Bruges, and a German CSU MEP, a von to boot, who boasts that he invented the concept of “privileged partnership” for Turkey. I wouldn’t boast of that if it were me. It’s run by somebody who headed the European Youth Parliament, and then ran the news magazines Euro92 and A’l Heure de’l Europe.

Look, if anyone’s got a copy of either, I’ll vote for you in the Pyjamas. Can’t say fairer than that. It was 1992 – couldn’t he have been out dancing? The rest of them all seem to work for the Robert Schuman foundation, and one of them for the French national assembly’s European secretariat.

They are a congregation of vapours, but hardly foul or pestilent. Not enough there for that. Honestly, you want to grab them all by the neck and shake them until they do something interesting.
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From the Metro Section of the Washington Post

Sometimes it pays to read beyond the front page:

Federal and local law enforcement authorities are investigating a shooting in Prince George’s County that critically injured a prominent intelligence expert who specializes in the former Soviet Union.

Paul Joyal, 53, was shot Thursday, four days after he alleged in a television broadcast that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent in London.

Law enforcement sources and sources close to Joyal, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the motive for the shooting was unclear. But several sources confirmed that FBI investigators are looking into the incident because of Joyal’s background as an intelligence expert and his comments about the Alexander Litvinenko case.

Joyal was shot by two men in the driveway of his house in the 2300 block of Lackawanna Street in Adelphi about 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The shooting was reported yesterday by Channel 4. …

In the “Dateline [NBC, a long-running news magazine program]” interview, Joyal accused the Russian government of being part of a conspiracy to silence its critics.

“A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: ‘If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you, and we will silence you — in the most horrible way possible,’ ” Joyal said. …

He is well-known for his expertise on intelligence and terrorism and for his network of friends in the former Soviet Union, and he published a daily intelligence newsletter for 10 years that offered information on the former Soviet Union. In 1998, he was a lobbyist for the Georgian government in Washington.

Holy shit.

(Thanks to Laura Rozen for bringing this to my attention.)

Belgium holds the line

Brief recap: about six months ago, the EU suspended candidacy negotiations with Serbia because Belgrade was refusing to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal.

In particular, the Serbian government had stopped even pretending to look for accused war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. As chief Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte put it, “I’m telling those who still wish to receive me – and fewer and fewer prime ministers and foreign ministers now find the time or interest to do so – that since last October, Belgrade has not been cooperating with the Tribunal at all. Not only has it failed to provide full cooperation – there has been no cooperation whatsoever.”

So the EU shut down candidacy negotiations. Kudos all around, right? Cooperation with the Hague was always a clear prerequisite for negotiations. The EU had made that clear, and the Serbs had agreed. No cooperation, no candidacy.

Then some EU members started getting cold feet.
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Serbia, day 41

Still no government in Serbia.

Parliamentary elections were held on January 21. It’s now March 1. The parties are still unable to agree. The previous ministers are staying on as a “transition” government.

Last time around — three years ago, early 2004 — it took them about 70 days. So I wouldn’t hold my breath. Article 109 of the new Serbian Constitution requires that a government be formed within 90 days, or Parliament gets dissolved and new elections called. It would not surprise me to see the various political parties, through stubbornness and brinksmanship, go right up to that line.

Why is it taking so long, again? Well, I have two working theories.

1) It’s an artifact of the weird political situation in Serbia. The biggest party, the populist and ultra-nationalist Radicals, are pariahs; nobody dares form a government with them. But without the radicals, the next two biggest parties — Democrats and Serbian Democrats — must join together, along with a minor party or two. And these two parties hate each other a lot. So they’re not going to reach an agreement easily, or soon.

2) It has something to do with the Serbian national character. It may be that the Serbs, like the Italians, just have trouble making parliamentary democracy work smoothly.

I don’t have a clear favorite yet among these two.